Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila
THERE were a few bright spots in last year’s automotive scene, what with the onset of the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) Law, which effectively stymied a multi-year run of growth for the domestic industry owing to higher vehicle price tags, with a few exceptions.
Truly, one of those bright spots was the Suzuki Jimny, which made people almost forget about the excise-tax increase when the fourth iteration of the mini SUV was previewed at the 7th Philippine International Auto Show (PIMS) in October last year. There was a consensus among attendees that the unveiling of the new Jimny was one of the most applauded and awaited launches at PIMS.
On March 8, Suzuki Philippines finally ended the wait as it formally launched the new Jimny at the Bonifacio Global City’s amphitheater. Now appended with “All-Grip Pro” to denote the new off-road driving technology that underpins it, the Jimny nonetheless continues to honor its distinguished history by not straying far from the qualities that have endeared it to many car buyers since the nameplate debuted in 1970.
“The Suzuki Jimny is known as a real off-road compact vehicle,” said Suzuki Philippines director and automobile division general manager Keiichi Suzuki in an exclusive interview with BusinessWorld. “Suzuki does not want to change a lot in terms of the concept of the car, so we maintained the ladder frame and the part-time 4×4 system. On top of that, we still brought in new technologies, starting with the powerful 1.5-liter engine, and installed new 4×4 technologies that make it the All-Grip Pro.”
In a news release, Suzuki Philippines emphasized that the Jimny’s ladder frame makes it “more resistant than a monocoque body to torsion, and is therefore better suited for off-road, rough terrain.” The Jimny also uses a long-stroke, three-link suspension with rigid axles on both front and rear for “strong traction on uneven terrain.”
Its four-cylinder, 1.5-liter K15B engine supplies a maximum of 100hp and 130Nm at 6,000rpm and 4,000rpm, respectively. This engine is mated to either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic transmission. To back up its off-road claim, the Jimny features a 37-degree approach angle, a 28-degree break-over angle, and a 49-degree departure angle. The vehicle is a part-time 4WD with low-range transfer gear, and its 4L mode provides extra torque for difficult terrain. Other features include hill-hold control, hill-descent control, brake limited slip-differential and traction control.
But again, the company wanted to stay true to the iconic character of the Jimny. “We wanted to maintain the concept — the size, the looks — even as we improved other things like the beauty, driving performance, and comfort,” continued Mr. Suzuki.
The multimedia audio unit banners a nine-inch capacitive touch screen with legible and large icons, as well as soft buttons for easy control. An offline GPS navigation system and off-road audio guide complete the suite of functions. The new Jimny swallows 53 more liters of cargo than the outgoing model, and small items can be stowed in a removable luggage box.
When asked how the Jimny ranges against its price-point competitors, the executive replied; “From a Suzuki point of view… we think that we have no direct competitors, but in terms of off-road vehicles, our unique point is the compact size of the car, and its affordability.”
He offered insight into the target demographic for the badge. “In the past, it was focused on professionals — not so young,” revealed Mr. Suzuki. “Now, because of the features and the beautiful design, the car is going to be more attractive not only for professionals but also the younger generation, and even ladies. The profile is getting more varied.”
The new Jimny All-Grip Pro comes in the following variants and prices: GL M/T (P975,000), GL A/T (P1.035 million), GLX A/T Monotone (P1.085 million), and GLX A/T Two Tone (P1.095 million).